This week is Graduation Day for my summer writing class (an extraordinarily talented group of people if I do say so myself) and as always I’ ve been searching for a inspirational speech, some weighty last words with which to send them off into the cold harsh world of publishing. I finally decided that in these uncertain times what is needed is a call to the Straight and Narrow Path, and devised this warning against falling prey to the seven deadly sins for writers (I was going to call it The Seven Deadly Sins of Beginning Writers, but then realized how many of them I’ve been guilty of, myself!). Over the next week I’ll be blogging about a different writer’s vice. Do any of them sound familiar to you writers out there?
Here is Deadly Sin Number One:
Also known as the you-won’t-believe- what- I-can-do or the I’m-the-best-that’s-ever-been syndrome, arrogance is often considered more of a survival tool for writers than it is a sin. Anyone who has actually written (much less had accepted for publication) a book is already one in several thousand, and he has a right to be proud. He also runs the risk of seeming very much like the new mother who believes she is the only one to have ever given birth. A quiet walk around a medium-sized bookstore is the generally accepted cure for a writer afflicted with arrogance, but for those die-hards who refuse to believe that their masterpiece is not the most extraordinary accomplishment ever to grace mankind, we may all rest assured: the arrogant writer rarely writes more than one book. Publishers find his demands outrageous, editors refuse to work with him, agents erase his e-mail from their address books. Because he is far too important to promote his book to anyone other than the major broadcast networks(who, for some reason, never got the memo that The Best Book Ever Written was about to be published) his sales plummet and his contract is not renewed.
Arrogance is, indeed, its own reward .